During the time period of the Church of Sardis (believed to be 1000-1500 (Ruckman) or 1500-1700 (Larkin)), there were many notably violent events that gave it its name. Sardis, meaning red one, was a bloody period in history that held heavy persecution and torturous punishment through the Spanish inquisition for those against the Roman Catholic Church. This particular age, as relayed in Revelation 3, was a dark period (hence why it was known as the Dark Ages) in which the works of the Protestant Church were dead. In spite of this, Revelation 3 also mentions that there were a few names that were alive and did not defile their garments. Such notable names, which were against the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, were Savonarola, Wycliffe, Huss, Luther, Erasmus, Peter Waldo, among others.
Revelation 3:4 mentions white garments. In a Christian application, these white garments are dependent on our works through our righteousness, not Christ’s righteousness, which is for our salvation.
Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
Ephesians 5 further explains a Christian’s white garments and how they are kept perfect, through cleansing by the word. In other words, how white and unblemished a Christian keeps their garments is dependent on how well they abide by the word of God.
Ecclesiastes 12:14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
Ecclesiastes 12 mentions that every known and secret work (good or evil) will be judged.
1 Corinthians 3: 13-15 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
1 Corinthians 3 mentions that a Christian’s works will be tried by fire at the Judgement seat of Christ, with rewards mentioned for good works and loss of rewards for bad works.
Revelation 19:7-8 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
Revelation 19:7 mentions that the bride of Christ (the Christian Church) has made herself ready, which alludes to a preparation process that the Church had to go through, which is 1 Corinthians 3:13-15. Verse 8 mentions the garments of the bride, clean and white, which represent the righteousness or the good works of the saints.
Revelation 3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
Revelation 3:18 also gives us an important piece of information concerning white garments and those whose works have been tried by fire (Christian Church). If one’s righteousness (good works) is found insufficient, they can find themselves without garments or unclothed.
When concerning Tribulation saints, Revelation 3:5 mentions that they also wear white garments because they overcame (worked for their salvation) and were found worthy because of it. A parable told by Jesus mentions white garments in order to attend the wedding, while those who do not have it lose their salvation (cast into hell). This coincides with tribulation saints and their enduring until the end. However, this is not applicable to Christians because, as previously mentioned in 1 Corinthians 3, Christians do not burn in the fire, only our works. In order to follow the correct doctrine, one must apply dispensationalism, which is dividing verses to the right group of people and the right time period. This eliminates any confusion or perceived contradictions in the bible, especially when concerning salvation.
The rest of verse 5 mentions that Jesus will not blot out the name of those who are clothed in white out of the Book of Life, which coincides with the salvation of Tribulation saints. Matthew 25 overlaps with Revelation 3:5 in that it also mentions blotting out a person’s name and not confessing a person’s name to God and His angels, which was referring to the Jews of the time of Matthew and future Jews in the Tribulation.
Revelation 3:4-5 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.